Aaaaah, lookit da Aussies, getting all gwown up now

For a blogger who’d always intended to rant mainly at the goings on in the land of his birth I feel I’ve been a bit overly focused on Aussie affairs lately, and was determined to give it a rest for a bit. The trouble is that while the phone-not-hacking business seems to be dominating news in the UK, and is also being so well blogged elsewhere I haven’t got much to add, there appears to be a wider variety of things going on here that have got sufficiently far up my nose to blog about. Money being wasted, carbon tax, some more money being wasted, different money being wasted elsewhere, politicians saying one thing and doing another, politicians talking complete bollocks, politicians talking crap whilst wasting money,and so on. Well, best intentions of mice and bloggers blahblahblah, because I’m going to do another one. No apologies though, because this is important – Australia’s nannies have decided it’s growing up enough to be allowed scary videogames.

SEXUALLY explicit and violent video and computer games banned in Australia could soon be sold here after all state and federal governments except New South Wales agreed to an R18+ rating for video games.

Now as I’ve mentioned before, the reason we don’t already have one was that one state, South Australia, would not agree and that unanimity was required for change on this, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that nothing much has actually changed. NSW abstained rather than objected as SA had done in the past, although the new Attorney-General from NSW, Greg Smith, is reportedly a conservative (yeah, that Liberal kind of ‘liberal’ again) and argued against introducing an R18+ classification.

Mr Smith said he abstained from the vote because it needed to go to state cabinet first as the government was new – it was elected in March – and so he could consult the community.

Same same but different, you’d think, because that’s really not that far off the old situation – one strongly conservative view, quite possibly religiously influenced, held by a paternalist know-it-all in a position that lets him decide for the whole country rather than just his state (or better yet, his family) has apparently been exchanged for another. However, the federal government are not letting one state lay down the law for the whole country anymore. Kind of begs the question why they’ve been content to do so until this point, but never mind.

Brendan O’Connor says the Federal Government would over-ride NSW and implement the R18+ rating regardless of its decision.

And then there’s that community Greg Smith mentioned, and that can be divided into three groups: the gamers, who overwhelmingly want to be able to buy adult oriented games since so many of them are adults; the non-gamers who mostly don’t care or support the gamers; and the small but phenomenally noisy and, for their numbers, highly influential Christian lobby, who up ’til now have mostly opposed games that would be rated R18+ because of the violence and the risk of a T&A being included. Presumably the feeling is this sort of thing inevitably leads to hot women playing World of Warcraft in the nip and naked gaming parties, which in turn can only lead to sticky sheets, Kleenex shortages and babies, and this game-induced lust-fuelled sexmageddon will meet the game-induced bloodlust-fuelled murderpocalypse head on.

No, I don’t know how they get there either, and that many of the kind of games they worry about are not only not banned but are sold to 15 year olds here in Australia because of rather than despite the lack of an RA18+ rating seems to have escaped them until now. On that point there seems to have been a waking up and smelling of coffee

THE Australian Christian Lobby has overturned its opposition to a new R18+ category for adult computer games, saying a new in-principle deal would keep extreme games out of Australia.

… though it’s not exactly a Damascene conversion.

“The draft R18+ guidelines as originally proposed would have matched the R18+ guidelines for films,” spokesman Rob Ward said.
“This was clearly never in the interests of the community, with the boundaries of the R18+ film guidelines slowly eroded to allow extreme violence, actual sex and simulated pedophilia in films.
“Although ACL awaits the final detail from the meeting, it appears that the existing ceiling for games has been maintained with a commitment to move the more extreme MA15+ games into a newly-created R18+ rating.”

So while the Christian lobby, or at least one of its most vocal parts, has worked out that the current situation is counter-productive they haven’t gone quite as far as conceding that they don’t speak for ‘the community’, just themselves, or that adults in Australia should be able to buy the same games that are available elsewhere without the game developer having to specially ruin it for the local market.

Still, the main thing is that the opposition to an R18+ category has pretty much dried up and I’d say it’s almost certain that it’ll be in place in time for Christmas orders. And I’d be prepared to bet that although the wording on the game classification guidelines may be slightly different to those for other media I’d be prepared to bet that the official censors – the people who’ve been employed to nanny us but have often allowed games aimed at adults to slip through as MA15+ – will allow into Oz unaltered games that they can’t at the moment.

I’d prefer to see an end to the gaming nanny completely, and realistically with online sales growing – my last two games purchases were made via Steam and with the prices of games in the shops I’m likely to carry on buying that way – I don’t see how they expect to stop someone downloading games that aren’t for sale here anyway. Even if the internet filter plan hadn’t stalled I’m sure serious gamers would be working out ways around it so they could download ZombieSplatterKill4 from the US or elsewhere.

So I have mixed feelings about it, but overall there are more positives than negatives. It didn’t go as far as I’d hoped and certainly not as far as I’d like, but baby steps I suppose. Progress has been made and Nanny is going to let us play the scary and slightly naughty games now, which for a country with the biggest and most blatantly sited sex shops (that one’s by the freeway on way to Melbourne International Airport) I’ve ever seen is probably about time.

 

For those who are interested there’s a good potted history of the road to an adult games rating on The Age’s Screen Play blog.

6 comments for “Aaaaah, lookit da Aussies, getting all gwown up now

  1. July 24, 2011 at 8:37 am

    The issue is not the sex shops which can limit access to adults but the plethora of this stuff immeidately available to kids. The one thing I’ve noticed in certain libertarians is that they focus on the rights and freedoms of themselves, i.e. adults but seem to forget about the children, for whom this sort of material is highly inappropriate.

    You mention the wider community outside the “Christian lobby” and how they feel. I would suggest that “the wider community” comprises many parents who would dearly like to see such things withheld from their children.

    Libertarianism always runs into trouble when it comes to children because those unformed minds in a hormonal soup need a firm set of parameters, easing off as they become older, with the parents the main arbiters of that. That’s how it used to be.

    I’m with AE if he’s speaking of the availability of this material to adults – it’s iniquitous for adults to be censored in what they watch and do.

    But kids are different. Kids need to be protected and nurtured, cared for and allowed “just enough freedom” as they grow up. This is what happened with me. I don’t recall any time my parents flatly refused me but somehow they steered me away from the worst excesses until I became too old for them to do that.

    I’d suggest that that’s what most parents would like but it’s taken out of their hands by the state and by the global socialists who want to peddle anything to the young to warp a new society.

    So there needs to be a twofold reform:

    1. remove censorship from adults and stop nannying adults;
    2. put power back into the hands of the parents to vet what their kids see and do.

    • July 24, 2011 at 11:31 am

      You mention the wider community outside the “Christian lobby” and how they feel. I would suggest that “the wider community” comprises many parents who would dearly like to see such things withheld from their children.

      Kind of. The wider community are the ones who feel they’re perfectly capable of withholding such things from their children all by themselves.

      Libertarianism always runs into trouble when it comes to children because those unformed minds in a hormonal soup need a firm set of parameters, easing off as they become older, with the parents the main arbiters of that.

      Don’t quite see that libertarianism runs into trouble there. In fact you’ve pretty much described what I feel is a libertarian approach – parents being arbiters. You see, even if you have classifications, or I should say assuming classifications are here to stay, you still end up with people whose minds are immature enough at a later age able to buy a game and people whose minds have matured earlier unable to buy it. Like any age limit you have to stick it in the middle somewhere and hope it’s about right for most people, while also accepting that because maturing is very much an analogue process and people don’t suddenly attain a new level of maturity at the stroke of midnight on their Nth birthday, about right for most is probably exactly right for none.

      I said something similar to a friend recently when talking about guns – he asked if I’d let an 8 year old shoot a gun, I replied that it would depend both on the 8 year old and the situation (i.e. what gun, level of supervision, where, at what, and so on). Cue sharp intake of breath, are you insane, Angry, etc etc. Result of the wrong question. Had he asked if I thought there were many circumstances in which I’d let any 8 year old shoot I’d say no, there are very few. In any event it’s moot because the government treats all 8 year olds as one and says that none may shoot.

      I’d suggest that that’s what most parents would like but it’s taken out of their hands by the state and by the global socialists who want to peddle anything to the young to warp a new society.

      Agreed, and in our increasingly corporatist societies it’s another potential problem with state set age limits. Say country X has a significant game production industry – might one of the big players try to influence the government as to what kind of content gets what rating? Why not – it happens all the time in other industries. It’s not inconceivable that a game marked as, say, 12 could come out with content few parents would feel suitable for a 12 year old. The worry there is that seeing a label with a big 12 on it may suggest that it definitely is suitable and so fewer parents will check it out for themselves.

      So there needs to be a twofold reform:

      1. remove censorship from adults and stop nannying adults;
      2. put power back into the hands of the parents to vet what their kids see and do.

      Absolutely. I think the download business model may end up doing this anyway, at least in Oz. Once you start to look around you realise that games are overpriced here so naturally you start to look paying in Euros, sterling or US dollars to get a better price, and suddenly you see the same game with maybe three different age ratings depending on where you buy it from. Differing opinions on content suitability can be almost as uninformative as no opinion at all so you’re practically forced to do a bit of research before buying. That’s probably no bad thing.

      • July 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm

        The wider community are the ones who feel they’re perfectly capable of withholding such things from their children all by themselves.

        That’s exactly what I was saying, only through child eyes rather than adult eyes.

    • July 24, 2011 at 11:41 am

      “…put power back into the hands of the parents to vet what their kids see and do.”

      Responsible parents already exercise this power.

      Irresponsible ones don’t, and won’t, no matter what restrictions the government brings in.

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